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Compare and contrast the use of dramatic irony in Oedipus Rex and Doll's House - Essay Example

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Dramatic irony, a literary device in which the audience understands things, or has knowledge that the characters on stage do not, is one of the oldest and most well-used tropes in theatre. Indeed, it plays a prominent part in both the ancient “Oedipus Rex” by Sophocles and…
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Compare and contrast the use of dramatic irony in Oedipus Rex and Dolls House
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Download file to see previous pages th plays use dramatic irony to develop conflict in situations that would otherwise not appear to have any, but they differ greatly in how that irony is developed and who is aware of what; in “Oedipus Rex” the irony develops as a slow but inevitable march towards disaster, making the tone of the play about sweeping concepts like fate, whereas in “A Doll House” the irony develops through constant attempts by each character to hide their actions from each other, making the play a universal parable about the life of the typical 19th century family.
Both “Oedipus Rex” and “A Doll House” are similar in using dramatic irony in a plot that would otherwise be bereft of conflict. For instance, in Oedipus, there is no particular antagonist as exists in a traditional narrative – Oedipus is essentially a hero and an anti-hero. The plot revolves around a “murder” that happened before the play even begins (Sophocles 18), and centers on a quest in which the hero eventually finds himself guilty of that same murder. Likewise, in “A Doll House,” one of the central themes is the inability of this family to openly communicate with each other, until the relationships in the family erode to the point that Nora, the protagonist “does not love” her husband Helmer anymore (Ibsen 1333), leaving her house “empty” when she goes (1333). Obviously this lack of communication would not function to advance the plot if the audience could not see it develop; thus “A Doll House” uses dramatic irony to advance the plot
While both “Oedipus” and “A Doll House” use irony to advance the plot, the effects of that irony on the viewer are very different, because the mechanism of developing the irony is very different between the two works. In “Oedipus,” the narrative relies almost entirely on outside knowledge of events to drive the irony. The audience never sees the events that set Oedipus up to kill his father or sleep with his mother, so when he ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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